An eight-year-antique woman from Normal who changed into allegedly killed with the aid of her stepmother stated she changed into afraid to move domestic after coming to high school with a broken tooth and marks on her face.
In a memo written to the House Human Services Committee after an appropriations hearing remaining month, performing Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Inspector General Meryl Panik said Rica Rountree came to high school nine months earlier than her death with marks on her face and neck and a damaged tooth. She instructed the faculty she becomes afraid to head home. The faculty said the injuries. However, the report became unfounded after the kid said she hit her face on a medication cabinet.
Rountree got here to high school one month earlier than her demise with two black eyes in one-of-a-kind ranges of restoration, Panik wrote. Rountree said she fell on toys. McLean County prosecutors said DCFS had ordered Baker to take Rountree to a physician. Baker reportedly took Rountree to a doctor in Pontiac who changed into no longer her number one physician. Prosecutors said Baker claimed the kid turned into “just clumsy” and later refused to take her for X-rays because her medical card turned into expired, and they became too busy caring for her other youngsters. DCFS deemed the abuse claim unfounded after Rountree’s father and stepmother gave the identical story about falling on toys to explain her black eyes, Panik wrote.
Baker then reportedly moved each Rountree and her personal daughter to another school. In July 2017, there was unfounded research with the aid of DCFS alleging that Rountree turned into overwhelmed with a belt. There have been 12 infant abuse or forget investigations conducted by using the organization regarding Rountree’s divorced dad and mom and their tremendous others. Eight of them were declared unfounded by the company. Panik said the parents had a record of home violence and drug use. Rica’s father becomes awarded custody in a divorce settlement and becomes sent to stay with him in the past due 2016.
When Rountree’s dying on January 26, Baker and the kid’s father stated, the female was vomiting for two days before she collapsed and stopped breathing. She becomes taken to a sanatorium in Normal and life-flighted to Peoria, wherein she died. Prosecutors stated Baker kicked Rountree in the belly so hard she suffered peritonitis due to intestinal perforation using blunt force trauma. In an announcement at first issued via a DCFS spokesperson in March, the organization recounted pending research into Rountree’s death. It said: “We are devoted to knowledge precisely what took place in this case and being fully obvious with the general public.” The spokesperson additionally said the company is running with the Pritzker management to review its practices, guidelines, and strategies. Baker is due in court once more for a standing hearing on May 17. Her bond is ready at $1 million.
Problems preserve with infant welfare agency; answers in sight.
The Rountree case in Normal is certainly one of 103 toddler deaths in cases related to DCFS mentioned inside the first nine months of financial yr 2019. Eleven of these deaths had been declared homicides. In monetary yr 2018, 98 youngsters worried with DCFS died. Panik stated to cut down on errors, management at DCFS should supply investigators with the resources they want to do their jobs. “Investigative shortcuts arise whilst investigators are overburdened. Each shortcut has the potential of manufacturing a lethal error, or what the mistake discount literature calls a ‘close to omit’ of a tragedy,” she wrote.
Panik encouraged DCFS control to begin with asking the body of workers what they want to do their jobs efficaciously, then paintings to increase “sturdy training” for infant safety investigators, intact caseworkers, and supervisors. She additionally recommended that the organization revisit pointers made by her office in the beyond, which include shifting from well-known intact services to a more specialized approach and making caseloads more doable.
To that stop, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has blanketed investment for 126 additional caseworkers in his monetary 12 months 2020 price range. Pritzker additionally commissioned the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall to provide suggestions for reform to his new DCFS director, Marc D. Smith, within six weeks of his March 27 appointment. The business enterprise has seen high turnover quotes within the head workplace, in the employer’s budget request. DCFS said its miles are starting to address first-rate and amount issues going through its non-public enterprise partners and impart durability bills to lengthy-time personnel. DCFS stated it’s also seeking to construct a college-to-staff profession pipeline approach.
Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino launched his office’s overall performance audit of DCFS earlier this week. Mautino determined the enterprise violated the 1991 B.H. Consent Decree requires that every DCFS investigator be assigned no more than 12 new abuse or forget investigations in keeping with the month at some point of 9 months of each calendar yr. During the opposite 3 months, the investigator can not take on extra than 15 new cases. The auditor popular located that 78.7 percentage of caseworkers had at the least one month wherein they acquired extra than 15 primary assignments.
The company gets an anticipated five, three hundred calls per week on its hotline. About 30 percent of them are referred for investigations. Mautino discovered the hotline could not take calls as they’re acquired, ensuing in a high price of callbacks to people reporting infant abuse or forget about. 55.7 percent of total calls obtained resulted in a callback in the economic year 2017, Mautino pronounced. The branch additionally does now not keep any records of callback statistics electronically for extra than ninety days, making the lengthy-time period analysis of callback statistics difficult, he stated.
Mautino additionally determined the branch did not always observe tactics when engaging in investigations. Mautino stated investigators inaccurately rated the level of intervention needed in forty-two. 7 percent of the sixty-four instances his workplace sampled from economic years 2015-17, in 65. Three percentage of investigations sampled, there was a lack of documentation regarding whether or not any offerings had been obtained through households and how long those offerings lasted.
The organization’s timeliness for finishing research suffered during the kingdom’s -yr finances deadlock, Mautino observed, growing from 7.6 percent of investigations nonetheless incomplete inside 60 days in economical 12 months 2015 to twelve. Four percentage through monetary yr 2017. Mautino issued a listing of 13 reform hints, consisting of enhancing facts recording, adhering to the B.H Consent Decree on employee caseloads, and running to extra closely observe its personal techniques. The department agreed with many of Mautino’s suggestions and set self-imposed deadlines to meet a number of them.